by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Rites Preliminary to Yajnas which is chapter 179 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the one hundred seventy-ninth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
If they are visited, touched or glorified, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, sin is dispelled like darkness by the Sun.
All the (other) Tīrthas undoubtedly sanctify through holy bath and offering of gifts. But one is relieved of all sins merely by visiting the Puṣkaras.
The sages said:
7. O highly esteemed ones, what has been said by you all is true. Now, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, listen with concentration in regard to that holy spot.
8. After bowing down to the Self-born Lord, I shall tell everything in detail.
10. He bowed down the head and touched his (Brahmā’s) feet. Then he sat in front of him.
11. O dear son, how is it that I see you after a long time? Where are you coming from? where have you been wandering? Dear son, tell me the reason thereof.
12. O Lord, I have reached this place hurriedly from the world of the mortals in order to worship your feet. I touch (swear) myself on the truth of this statement.
13. Tell me the news of the human world. Of what sort are the kings there? Of what sort are the Brāhmaṇas? What sort of dealings abound there now?
15. The kings abandon the path of the good; they are greedy. For the sake of money they trouble all the people very ruthlessly.
16. They have eschewed the noble quality of heroism. They oppress the wives of others. They do not revere or honour Brāhmaṇas, deities and elders.
17. Brāhmaṇas never hesitate to sell the Vedas. They are devoid of purities. They are greedy to accept gifts even from sinners. They are not regular in the performance of Sandhyā prayers. They are extremely merciless.
18. They are always engaged in agricultural activities. They breed cattle like Vaiśyas. Original Vaiśyas have disappeared from the earth.
19. The Śūdras have become desirous of performing pious rites. These very Śūdras have become ascetics too. All of them are shameless and they laugh derisively at worldly activities engaged in for the sake of earthly existence.
20. On the earth, men cultivate friendly relations with (whatever) person in whose house there is affluence and young women as well.
21. Great lust has entered into the heart of widows, persons observing Vratas and even in religious students.
22. All the Tīrthas undergo great upheaval. They are resorted to by sinful people. All of them are frightened of the Kali age and they run about here and there in all the ten directions.
23. O Pitāmaha, I too was affected while staying there because it was the Kali age.
24. In the Kali age unchaste women are too fond of delicate things. Women argue with their husbands and they are interested in their special work or witchcraft. They ignore the interests of their husbands and perform Vratas which are futile.
25. The Kali age has been rendered very powerful by your boons. Whenever there is a battle in the human world I get an itching sensation in the heart.
26-28. When there is a battle in heaven there is an itching sensation in the head and when there is a battle in Pātāla, there is an itching sensation in the feet. Now in the human world mutual quarrels and battles have been seen by me many times between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, between fathers and sons, between kinsmen, and between masters and servants. There are fights between thieves and kings and even between married pairs (couples). Clouds contain meagre water and the earth produces very little vegetation (food-grain).
29. Cows yield very little quantity of milk. Milk does not contain adequate fat content (ghee).
Thus I observed their battles day and night.
30. I wandered over the mortal world for long, having come into contact with it after some time. I will go there once more. There is a great itching sensation.
31. On hearing the words of Nārada, Pitāmaha became worried and all his senses became distressed out of consideration for Puṣkara.
32-35. He thought thus ‘My Tīrtha in the mortal world named Puṣkara is well-known. It will certainly be destroyed on being overcome by the Kali age. Hence I shall take it to another place where Kali is not present. I shall leave my Tīrtha named Puṣkara there.
At the advent of the Kali Age that is terrifying unto all living beings, let all the Tīrthas proceed there. When Kali age (being over) departs they will undoubtedly return to their own place.’
36. After thinking thus in mind, after pondering over it mentally, Pitāmaha eagerly spoke to the Lotus in his hand:
37. “O Lotus, do fall down to the ground where there is no (influence or existence of) Kali, so that I can bring my Tīrtha Puṣkara there.”
38. Then the lotus sent by him wandered over the whole of the earth and fell on the Hāṭakeśvara Kṣetra.
39. (In the course of its reconnaissance the Lotus saw these things:) The pure Brāhmaṇas, conversant with the Vedas, were enagaged in chanting the texts. Their Yajña rites proceeded without hindrance.
41. When this chanting sound rose up and spread over the quarters no other sound could be heard.
In some places there were great discussions and argumentation of Tārkikas.
42. The entire range of the Vedāntas was being commented upon (discussed) in various ways. The sages were seen engaged in their regular observances.
43. Some took only a single meal per day. Some observed complete fast. Some took food on alternate days. Others observed fast for three days together. Still others were engaged in Kṛcchra Cāndrāyaṇa rites (expiation).
44. Others observed the Mahāpārāka rites. Others observed fast for the whole of a month. Still others were Aśmakuṭṭāśins (eating only what is ponded between two slabs). A few others were Dantolūkhalikas (i.e. they crushed the grains with their teeth used as mortars).
45. A few ate withered leaves. There were great sages having fruits for food. (The Lotus) saw the holy spot rich with different kinds of good qualities and features.
46. It knew that spot as sacred and fell on to the ground. It then rose up from the place where it fell before.
47. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, it then fell down on a second spot. Then for the third time, the Lotus rose up and fell on another spot.
48. Three pits took shape in the three spots. Crystal clear water filled those pits.
49. In the meantime, Pitāmaha himself came to that spot, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, for performing Yajña rites.
51. (Pitāmaha said to himself) Oh, this holy spot is wonderful! It is meritorious, beautiful and liked by the twice-borns. Hence I shall perform a Yajña in this holy spot resorted to by Brāhmaṇas.
52. I shall bring that splendid trio of Puṣkaras to these holy pits—the superior, the middling and the inferior Puṣkara.
53. When the Kali age arrives they will not get destroyed. He thought thus in his mind. Then he sat on the ground.
54. He meditated for a long time and brought the three Puṣkaras—the superior, the middling and the inferior.
55-59. Delighted within himself he spoke: “These three Puṣkaras have been rightly brought here due to the fear of Kali age.
Those who are endowed with perfect faith and take their bath here, will attain great Siddhi that will never get lost with my favour.
There, from the first Puṣkara, they will get hundred times more merit. Yajña was performed in the Pūrva Puṣkara on the Kārttikī day. Here in the second Puṣkara, I shall perform the Yajña on the Vaiśākhī day.”
60-62. After speaking thus, Brahmā commanded the Wind-god: “At my behest, O Vāyu, bring Purandara here. Let him be brought along with the Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, groups of Maruts, Gandharvas, Lokapālas, Siddhas and Vidyādharas. If they come I can be assisted in all the Yajña rites.”
63. Then Śakra hurriedly went there along with all the groups of Devas. After bowing to him, he spoke these words to Brahmā:
64. “O Lord, may command be given to me. Wherefore have I been summoned? I shall carry it out. So do tell me quickly.”
65. O Śakra, the highly meritorious trio of Puṣkaras has been brought here due to the fear of Kali age. I want to make them stable.
66. I wish to perform three Agniṣṭomas as I had performed earlier, on the Vaiśākhī day. Bring all the requisites thereof quickly.
67. Bring also the Brāhmaṇas who are worthy (qualified) with the full mastery of the Vedas and Vedāṅgas.
On hearing it Śakra said, “So be it". Hurriedly he brought the requisites and the Brāhmaṇas qualified for the same.
68. Then Prapitāmaha performed the Yajña duly in accordance with the injunctions with the full complement of monetary gifts.
Footnotes and references:
The author seems to have a vague idea of the location of Puṣkara. It is in Rajasthan. Candrabhāgā (Chenab) is in Punjab, Karatoyā formed the ancient boundary between Bengal and Kāmarūpa. (De, p.93).